BIG BOY BITES THE DUST

“From what witnesses said, several rioters claimed that Bob had been a member of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.”

A Bob’s “Big Boy” statue in El Segundo, California was the scene of a peaceful protest turned violent late Wednesday afternoon.

Berta Butz, a local El Segundo resident, said that demonstrators were marching peacefully for an unknown cause when one young man, believed to be an ANTIFA member on crack, attacked Big Boy and began yelling racial epithets at him. Others quickly joined in.

From what witnesses said, several rioters claimed that Bob had been a member of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Other protesters began taunting the lifeless statue.

The angry group then tossed a rope over his fiberglass body and attempted to pull it down by hand. Unable to do so, they fastened their rope to the rear bumper of a protester’s Kia automobile. When the vehicle bumper came flying off, a larger Ford truck took over.

As Big Boy tumbled cheers were heard and fists raised in the air. Afterwards, one of the protesters was interviewed by an El Segundo reporter. When informed that Big Boy wasn’t actually born until 1954, and that the Civil War didn’t end until 1865, she replied to him,

“You’re kidding me, right?”

So far police have refused to press charges. When asked why, one officer wishing to remain anonymous said,

“There are no laws on the books for being stupid!”

Other than a few scrapes and scratches, Big Boy was not seriously damaged. Within minutes of the protester’s departure, a small group of senior citizens converged and had the big kid standing on his pedestal like nothing ever happened.

More as this story develops.

HERE’S AT YA

“It’s all a conspiracy. This Covid crap is just another stinkin’ flu!”

“Big Don” Dimbo

No one was going to tell “Big Don” Dimbo he had to wear a mask in the grocery store. After all, the man served his country for 22-years and freedom was important to him. He’d told that young fella at the door where to stick it when suggested he use some type face covering.

Browsing in the produce section, “Big Don” ran into his cardiologist, Dr. Paul Wagner.

“How’s it going Don?, the doctor politely asked. Shouldn’t you be wearing a mask?”

“Big Don” went into a full 5-minute spiel on how masks didn’t work, how constraining they were, and no one was going to take his freedom away by forcing him to wear one. He ended his tirade by claiming,

“It’s all a conspiracy. This Covid crap is just another stinkin’ flu!”

Dr. Wagner could only smile and wish him the best before leaving.

Two weeks passed before “Big Don” was rushed to Harborview Medical Center with chest pains. Tests showed that he had several blocked arteries. Bypass surgery was immediately performed.

A couple of day later, Dr. Wagner walked into Don’s hospital room to check on him.

Did you see the video of your procedure?

Yes I did.” Don replied. “Thanks for the great work. By the way, I noticed in the film you didn’t have on a mask. What’s with that?

“Good observation Don! You put me at risk in the grocery store so I thought I’d return the favor. You were right about that freedom thing, it’s so less constraining.”

Before leaving, Dr. Wagner had one last thing to tell his patient.

“By the way, after your surgery it was discovered I’m asymptomatic. I tested positive to carrying a virus of sorts. They’re running tests. I’m sure it’ll turn out to be nothing more than another stinkin’ flu. I wouldn’t worry about it unless of course, you develop a cough, runny nose, aches and pains, or a fever!”

“Big Don” Dimbo

TAKE A BULLET

“Call me insensitive, but I’m all for whatever drastic action it takes to get inebriated drivers off the road.”

The drunk driver of this “bullet” survived impact with tree, but not before an innocent child was struck by it and killed. (1939)

Not once do I recall people protesting or rioting in the streets, after the needless death or deaths caused by a drunk driver.


The media has never pushed for such drastic action, nor have specific political, ethnic, race, or religious groups. No liquor stores have been torched or looted as well. That seems absolutely amazing to me!


Some might say M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) adequately voiced their concerns. Yes, they did to a point, but never to the level of being carried on all major television station for hours on end . How much attention do you suppose M.A.D.D. would’ve received had they set fire to Donnie’s Drive-thru Liquor Store? I doubt if it would’ve made the news at all.


I’ve always thought that drunk drivers get off way too easy for taking a life. After all, it’s nothing more than murder. Any time you see or hear of police taking an intoxicated driver off the street, be thankful. That arrested person was behind the wheel of a loaded weapon, one way more powerful than a 44 Magnum. In other words, a car or truck in a drunk driver’s hands is nothing short of a giant “bullet”.

Inebriated drivers are a mere gas pedal away from planting a loved one six-feet-under. Be especially thankful the deceased isn’t your son, daughter, mother, father, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, or friend.
It seems society is way too protective of drunk drivers. They’re coddled in my opinion. All it takes is a good lawyer to put them back on the road with an open bottle.

Call me insensitive, but I’m all for whatever drastic action it takes to get inebriated drivers off the road.


I’d much rather see them take a proverbial bullet, than for any of my family or friends taking theirs.

Drunk driver of the darker car in background struck and seriously injured several people including killing a 2-year-old child.

TEXAS VACATION

“If everyone chips in $25.00 for gas we’ll head back out tomorrow.”

Lawrence Everett (1954 – 2014)

I worked with Lawrence Everett in Alaska for over 25 years. We were not only co-workers, but good friends. Sadly, he passed away of a sudden heart attack soon after retiring in 2014.

I’d like to share a story that Lawrence told us guys one day at lunch. This was after he returned home from a Texas vacation. You’ll have to read between the lines to catch Lawrence’s dry sense of humor.

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TEXAS VACATION

Most of the Everett family lived in Texas. When they all got together, a few nephews made mention of Lawrence being,

“Our rich uncle from Alaska.”

Every few years he’d fly to Texas and visit them.

On this particular trip, Lawrence jetted to ‘The Lonestar State’ via commercial airline, quickly making arrangements for his cousins, nephews, and brother to go fishing at Lake Texarkana.

He prearranged to rent a boat for the day, splurged for a large rental car to get them all there, forked over cash for needed fishing gear and bait, licenses for those needing one, including food and drink.

They fished most of the morning before stopping at noon to grill some rib-eye steaks. After eating, Lawrence and his entourage went back out for the rest of the afternoon. Driving home that night the men were flat tuckered out. One of his kin piped up,

That was the most fun I’ve had in ages. Wish we could do it again!”

Lawrence informed the man that they could. There was one simple stipulation,

“If everyone chips in $25.00 for gas we’ll do it again tomorrow.”

That’s all he expected them to pay for.

Dead silence. Lawrence said he quickly dropped the subject.

A co-worker immediately asked,

“What did you guys do the rest of your vacation?”

Lawrence didn’t hesitate before replying.

“I’m not sure what they did? I left for Austin the next morning and had a great time. Saved a couple thousand bucks by doing so!”

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The whole room erupted in laughter. Most everyone had experienced similar situations in their own lives.

Straight faced throughout, not once did Lawrence crack a smile during his spiel. He was what I call,

“A master story teller.”

Lawrence didn’t like having his picture taken as can be seen in this photo. He wanted me to delete it. I’m glad I didn’t.

WHATEVER TURNS YOUR CRANK

“Little did women’s libbers realize, that their protests actually kindled unbridled sexual thoughts in a certain adolescent boy’s head.”

College students burning the American flag in Washington D.C. supposedly for “inequality” sake.

(Written before the George Floyd death)

In the late evening, I often sit in my easy chair and watch Americans protesting one thing or another on television. My ritual goes back many years. I’ve noticed that this generation of young people seem to detest more things than any other in history. Perhaps it’s not right for me to confess, but I make visual observations on the type of clothing protesters wear. I also look at body proportion to see if the demonstrators have been malnourished. Shame on me!

I’ve never witnessed a protester in this country wearing rags, or with ribs protruding through skin due to starvation. I have seen thousands of designer-brand-shirts and overweight people marching down the streets stuffed inside of them.

There’s nothing wrong with protesting. It’s allowed in our United States Constitution. I do have serious problem with protesters turning to violence as a means to garner attention. Most law abiding protesters are on my side in this arena.

When I was a kid, my brother remembers me being at the dinner table complaining because I’d been shorted. Jim said it had to do with dessert. I’m sure my griping was in jest, yet one time he claims we got into a heated argument over slices of cake. I supposedly accused Jim of taking the largest piece. That’s hard not to believe. Mom evidently stepped in before things escalated. She was good at cooling our jets. Logic dictates I would’ve belly-ached to her,

“It’s not fair!”

Children back then used that statement as they often do now. My grandchildren do for sure and I still love them. Adults are notorious for vocalizing the same mournful cry. My dad often told me that life isn’t fair, and that it never will be. His ending statement was,

“Get use to it!”

During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, protesters marched throughout America demanding that President Johnson and President Nixon pull our troops from Vietnam. Some young men torched their draft cards as a way to get attention when cameras were rolling. Others burned a cardboard likeness of either president in effigy. On one occasion things didn’t work out so well because of rain. They tore up Nixon’s photo instead.

In 1969, a group of women’s lib demonstrators set their bras on fire as a protest against feminist exploitation. This was purposely done in front of the Miss America Pageant headquarters. As a teenager, I recall bra burning more than government-issued draft cards going up in flame. A friend of mine went so far as to proclaim,

“I wish all girls would burn their bras!”

Little did women’s libbers realize, that their their protests actually kindled unbridled sexual thoughts in a certain adolescent boy’s head. That was part of the reason these gals were protesting; females being viewed as sex objects by males.

The same thirteen-year-old friend actually developed a crush on women’s rights activist, Gloria Steinem. The to remain anonymous fellow had a thing about girls wearing glasses. He claimed they were smarter. He still does.

Gloria Steinem

I never took time to protest anything in my life. In hindsight, I didn’t have time for such activity. Not everything in my 66-years has been fair, yet thankfully my parents, teachers, pastors, and friends taught we to drive around any unfairness coming my direction. I did so partly by working for stuff rather than expecting it to be handed to me. Most, if not all of my friends walked the same gauntlet. Those pensive thoughts bring forth this unanswered question,

“With so many people protesting, does anyone work anymore?”

I know I’m not the only person wondering such!

Mom said that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go ’round. She never fully explained her thoughts yet I pretty much grasped the idea.

A few months back, when I watched an American protester sporting a Hugo Boss sweatshirt and carrying an Apple iPod in one hand, with a professionally made sign in the other, they failed to get any sympathy or empathy from me. I totally forget what their cause was at this point.

Pastor Chad Garrison at Calvary Baptist Church told our congregation several times,

“The poorest of poor in the United States has it better off than 90% of all people in third-world-countries where food, clean water, clothing, shelter, and medical care are concerned.”

Pastor Garrison would know as he’s been to many of these poverty stricken areas.

Not once during my television watching hours, have I witnessed a group of starving Ethiopian youngsters marching down a dusty road in protest of anything. If anyone should have a right to protest for inequality or unfairness, it would be these unfortunate Africans, plus other third-world-country residents.

I’d love to ask young folks protesting in this country one question,

“Are things really that bad or is it you just don’t think life’s fair?”

I believe a good many couldn’t reasonably answer that question without going into a tyrant. Going back to what my father told me over 50-years ago regarding fairness,

“Life isn’t fair, never will be, so get use to it!”

There’ll be some people totally disagreeing with my thoughts. Our U.S. Constitution allows freedom of speech so I’m in safe haven. For those wanting to push a red button looking for a verbal fight, like my late mother, I have a favorite saying of my own,

“Whatever turns your crank!”

Hopefully those in disagreement won’t expect me to hang around and debate my opinion. I didn’t take time years ago to protest, and these days I have more important things to do than argue.

Peace out!”

Impoverished Ethiopian children give a realistic meaning to “unfair and inequality.”

MY FATHER

“My father never had a formal business education, so that rule didn’t apply to him.”

My late father, Troy Lee Hankins

Father’s Day is near. I didn’t want to wait until June 21st to honor dad through simple written words. I think of him every day. Certain traits that my father possessed stand tall above all others. He was never a touchy-feely kind of guy. Most of the time he kept his sensitive side hidden. I believe there was reason for that.

Dad went through much tragedy during his childhood years. At twelve, he was standing beside his younger brother, and watched in horror as a can of burning gasoline accidentally set the youth on fire. James Columbus Hankins died within hours from his burns.

Several years later my father was riding motorcycles with a friend. He found out the next morning that his pal never made it home. The teenager was killed in a head on collision with a car. Mom said that dad silently grieved for a long time.

In 1957, my father was ejected at high-speed from a Corvette sports car on Route 66 near Victorville, California. He survived by miraculously landing in a pile of sand. God was definitely looking over him that morning. Dad walked with a pronounced limp afterwards because of a metal rod implanted in his leg by doctors, to strengthen the shattered bone.

In 1972, he survived three days in -40 degree weather after crashing his airplane in Canada. Mother was with him. She never flew in small planes again, yet the accident didn’t deter him. Dad was back in the cockpit several weeks later.

Dad was not a perfect person. He had his share of faults like others. We butted heads on more than one occasion. Mom said I was like my father in many ways. She never specified what traits we shared. Hopefully she meant the good ones.

One thing pop never did was back down from his beliefs. Most business professors tell you, don’t bring religion or political affiliation inside business walls.

My father never had a formal business education, so that rule didn’t apply to him. Even if he had been advised by experts to keep personal ideology out of his business, he would’ve ignored them.

I recall more than once, someone walking into dad’s automotive part’s store, and spouting off about a specific political poster taped to the front window. The old man would quietly stand and listen before telling them,

“You need to go down the street!”

That generally made the person tight-jawed and furious. Choice words were often uttered by these folks before leaving.

Some people strolled into his store with the philosophy that the customer is always right. Dad didn’t see things that way. If they were wrong he told them so. On several occasions my father showed an irate customer the front door. In spite of such, he was highly successful in his business endeavors.

A friend of dad’s owned a gas station close by. This man once asked,

“Aren’t you worried your open support of Republican candidates will offend people?”

My father didn’t hesitate in replying,

“That’s their problem!”

Political correctness is something dad wanted no part of. I echo his sentiment. My thick skin was definitely inherited from the ‘old man’, including a small portion of it from mom.

I believe my father is looking down at me, proud, and that’s all that counts on Father’s Day!

My dad with mom in front of their Anchorage, Alaska parts store (1977).

WAFFLE STOMPERS

“Kids from Alabama are taught at an early age how to defend themselves.”

Waffle-Stompers

My family grew up in Selma, Alabama during the height of the racial flareups (1959 – 1963). I witnessed severe discrimination firsthand against blacks. Believe me, things have gotten better in the hate department since that time. I’m sure Selma, Mayor Darrio Melton, would concur. If anyone were to disagree I’d politely ask them,

“Did you personally experience how life was in Selma in 1963?”

Twenty years later, I suffered racial discrimination of my own. My wife and I took a couple of cruises to Hawaii. One was on the SS Constitution, and the other on the SS Independence. Both beautiful ships have now been scrapped.

It was on the second cruise that I decided to take a lone hike. Can’t remember the exact island at this point but the port was more industrial. I was off by myself enjoying sights when a large fellow came up from behind. I’d bought a Hawaii 5-0 baseball hat in Honolulu and the stranger started making fun of it. Said he had ‘puna buds’ if I wanted any. I politely informed him I didn’t smoke dope.

At that point the guy became irate, calling me all kinds of nasty things including,

“Haole.”

That word meant absolutely nothing to me, although I’d heard it before in Honolulu. I assumed he was cursing at my not purchasing any of his goods. When the man began moving closer I didn’t hesitate as trained. Kids from Alabama are taught at an early age how to defend themselves.

As a young person who loved the outdoors, I wore Dexter brand Waffle-Stomper boots wherever I went. It was a good thing that I had them on that day. The poor fellow undoubtedly hurt in his private section for weeks. He was on the ground writhing in pain when I hightailed it back to the ship.

Sitting with Joleen on the “SS Independence” in Hawaii wearing my Dexter – Waffle-Stomper” boots.

My wife’s been back to Hawaii, but I’m satisfied staying on mainland USA. It’s not that I’m afraid of discrimination or being accosted over there. I doubt any young Hawaiian would stroll up to an old man offering to sell him puna buds.

The fellow that hassled me in 1983 was no different than some white dude antagonizing a black guy, or vice versa. Racial hate is prevalent in all races and has been since the beginning of time. Much like the Covid-19 flu, It’ll take much more time before it’s completely rubbed out; if it ever is.

These days I feel more secure in my own element and that’s okay with Joleen. She can go to Hawaii with friends and I’ll hike into the Grand Canyon for a few days.

A few years ago I quit wearing Waffle-Stomper boots. Those heavy things were like having a personal bodyguard on each foot. Perhaps it’s time for a new pair?

Boy, do I miss them!

Mayor Melton – Selma, Alabama

HOT ANCHORAGE NIGHTS

“This was back in the day when “GTO Joe” was ‘King of the Street’.”

1954 Chevrolet “Highboys.”

I did my share of cruising both Northern Lights and Benson Boulevard in the late 1960’s through 1970’s. It was a favorite pastime for young people during long Anchorage nights. Those folks having lived there during that time know what I mean. The sun barely sat each June and July night before it popped up for another day of excitement.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to hang onto several grainy photos to help tell this story:

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My initial experience with cruising was with my friend, Rod Sanborn. This took place in his 1958 Chevrolet Apache pickup. The year was 1969. I would’ve been a 9th grader at Clark Junior High. Rod was two years older and attended East High.

Rod’s pickup was painted bright Hugger Orange and had large Mickey Thompson street slicks on the rear. Traction bars helped put rubber to the asphalt. All windows except the windshield were tinted orange to seemingly match the truck. I recall Rod saying they accidentally turned out that way after he used ammonia-based Windex on gray-window-film. A chemical reaction took place changing the hue. Rod’s truck looked cool to say the least.

The engine was a hopped up small-block Chevy 283. It had a Mallory ‘REV POL’ (reverse polarity) dual-point ignition, with a switch in the cab that allowed the distributor to fire on one set of points only. This was intended for regular driving purposes. A red light came on when switched to dual points and reverse polarity. On top of the panel was a warning label declaring that when the light was on, you were in “Race Mode Only.” Each time Rod used that switch, I told him I could feel the difference in horsepower. Looking back on things, I believe it was more of a imaginary feeling than anything.

This high revvin’ motor grenaded on more than one occasion with my pal at the wheel. I helped him scrounge parts for it at the vehicle graveyard off Kincaid Road. We spent many Saturday’s wrenching away on discarded cars and trucks along with other money savvy residents.

Rod and I would cruise to The Bun Drive-In on Northern Lights and park with the hot-rod crowd. This was back in the day when “GTO Joe” was ‘King of the Street’. Being surrounded by serious horsepower nearly made me drool. Rod gave me a nickname back then that he still uses,

“Jap Zero.”

He says the term has something to do with a black hat that I wore. I tend to believe it was because I always bummed money from him for a Coke and fries.

The Bun Drive-In
I believe this is Rod’s ’58. No serial number to prove it. Truck was sold in California (1974 or 1975). It’s now in Utah.

My brother, Jim, purchased a 1969 Mercury Cougar from a local radio DJ. That car became our next cruisin’ machine soon after Rod’s truck was sold. The Cougar had a 351 Windsor with manual 4-speed transmission. Glass pack mufflers gave it a nice throaty sound. I was allowed to drive the Cougar on occasion which helped to swell my head.

My brother Jim’s 1969 Mercury Cougar. Cheney Lake is in the background.

Several years later I purchased a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T. It was equipped with a 440 CID engine, 4-speed transmission, and Dana 60 differential. The Mopar was a looker and quite adequate in the acceleration department. Cops came to know it and myself on a first name basis.

1968 Dodge Charger R/T with Cheney Lake in the background.

Back then, street racing on Northern Lights was basically a stoplight to stoplight affair. I often thought that an unbeatable combination would be a car with a manual-shift automatic transmission, along with a super-low gear ratio. My friend, Jeff Thimsen, and I set out to build two such street racing machines.

My 1954 Chevy under construction.
Jeff’s on the left. Mine on the right.
Photo taken behind Polar Theatre on Muldoon Road.
This “rubber” was left out by the airport or Sand Lake area. We night raced at both places.

Our 1954 Chevrolet “Highboy” hot rods were unbeatable up to 40 mph. Jeff’s ’54 had a Jimmy Arnold built Turbo-400 transmission and 4500 RPM stall torque converter. A Dana 60 with 4.88 gears completed the package. An original LS-6 454 from a 1970 Chevelle SS powered his car.

My ’54 had 5.38 rear gears with the same Jimmy Arnold transmission and torque converter. A high winding 1969 Z-28 302 engine sat under the hood.

We took our automobiles to Northern Lights each weekend when it wasn’t raining. After a month or so, it became impossible finding anyone wanting to go up against us. There was nothing that’d beat these cars the first 100 feet. At that point, we’d quit racing and let the other guy sail on by. It was our way of silently saying,

“No competition!”

The last such race I recall is one I still laugh about. We were in Jeff’s ’54 sitting at a light on Benson heading east, when a gloss black 1964 Ford pulled up. This Galaxie 500 had huge leaf spring shackles on its rear end.

When the light turned green, Jeff ran through all 3-gears and as usual we were five car lengths in front. He let off the gas and the Ford went flying by. Unbeknownst to us a patrol car was directly behind taking in all the action.

The officer pulled up next to us and ordered Jeff to pull over at McDonald’s and wait. The cop then took off in hot pursuit of the Ford with lights and siren going. Jeff wheeled into the fast-food parking lot as instructed but he didn’t wait. We took various side roads all the way back to his apartment which was located on Spenard Road.

Jumping into my Charger, we returned to Northern Lights finding the same policeman had pulled over a black 1955 Chevrolet. The vehicle’s owner and passenger were standing against the car, with several other police cars circled around. We observed one fellow trying to plead his case.

We learned through the grapevine, that the officer ordering Jeff to stop believed he’d caught the right culprit. Jeff and I chuckled over how someone could misidentify a 1954 Chevrolet over a 1955. The two automobiles share no common traits.

1955 Chevrolet (file photo)

We parked our hot rods for the rest of that summer. Stoplight to stoplight racing was no longer fun; it also wasn’t safe.

Jeff and I continued to cruise Northern Lights with our girlfriends and then wives. Jeff upgraded to a couple of SS-454 Monte Carlo’s and a 1963 split-window Corvette.

I drove a 1971 SS-454 Chevelle for a while, and then a 1974 SS-454 El Camino. A V-8 Chevy Vega was eventually built for cruising, with a 1968 supercharged 440 GTX finishing things off. By this time Jeff and I came to the conclusion that racing belonged on the strip. It seems we had matured.

Some of the names I remember from my cruising days are: Jeff Kritenbrink, Steve Kretsinger, Doug Miller, Bob Malone, Jerry Warren, Faith Luther, Michelle Giroux, Cathy Cook, Willie Brown, Dennis Hackenberger, Gary Adair, Warren Fife, Mark Lewis, Mike Smith, Pat Steger, Tim Amundsen, Kathy Fejes, Ken Lucia, Mike Eddins, Rick Barden, “Buzzy”, and a few other first names only.

Jeff changed the gearing in his ’54 and raced it at Polar Raceway several times before selling it. We eventually moved on to other things like raising families, finding viable careers, fishing, camping, plus other pertinent activities. Cars were still fun to tinker with but not as important as they used to be.

Jeff at Polar Raceway. He’d just smoked the other vehicle. Notice steam coming from the Mustang’s hood.
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T convertible. My friend Isiah Lewis in Oklahoma now owns it.

1974 Chevrolet SS-454 El Camino. Vehicle purchased from Kevin Sigafoos.

1971 Chevelle SS-454 purchased from Randy Huffman.
Supercharged 1968 Plymouth GTX.

Looking back on this time, my favorite cruising machine of all time was a 1954 Chevrolet station wagon named, ‘War Wagon.’ Jeff, myself, and a friend, Ken Lucia, purchased the wagon just for kicks. Several years ago I wrote a story solely about this ride.

Sadly, ‘War Wagon’ eventually succumbed to one too many,

“Hot Anchorage Nights.”

Jeff with 1954 Chevrolet station wagon, “War Wagon.”

PAPERBOY

“During my 3-years of delivering I encountered many strange and unusual sights.”

Vintage newspaper tube

I’m proud to have been a “paperboy.” Perhaps the title’s not politically correct these days, but that’s what I was referred to back then. Throughout my 66 years of livin’, I’ve bumped into many people claiming the same childhood occupation. On rare occasion, I stumble across someone having delivered newspapers in Alaska like myself.

I was in seventh grade when this short-lived career began. A high school kid delivered the morning paper to our family. One afternoon he stopped by our trailer with an older route manager. They were canvassing the area in search of a new carrier.

My brother, Jim, already had the Anchorage Times afternoon route. I helped him most evenings. Taking on delivery of the Anchorage Daily News morning newspaper seemed like a smart thing to do. We’d monopolize the whole trailer park. It seemed a bit greedy, yet the money would be flowing in and that’s all that counted.

The month was January, and my first week meant walking with the retiring carrier in minus-10-degree weather to learn his route. I’m talking about a huge-trailer-court with well over 300 mobile homes. It was easily a mile hike plus some.

We waited for the bundle of newspapers to be dropped off at a tiny block building near the main park entrance. My ingenious mentor showed me a secret way to get inside the structure. It basically meant jimmying the lock with a screwdriver hidden within a broken cinder block.

There was a small electric-heater inside to keep pipes from freezing. That tiny heat source is what sustained us until papers arrived. This building housed a large pump which supplied water to the whole compound. Deep down a concrete shaft complete with ladder, water could be heard running from an underground artisan stream.

Weather was brutally cold during that time. I wore a military style parka with insulated underwear and warm boots. I recall the guy smoking cigarettes as we trudged through snow and lingering ice fog. His tobacco smoke hung in the air like a mystic cloud at each stop.

After finally going solo, it was a bit unnerving to be out there all alone at 5:00 in the morning. Feeling quite uneasy at the start, Jim accompanied me until I overcame my fear.

Alaskan Village Trailer Park

During my 3-years of delivering I encountered many strange and unusual sights. Moose were the most common hurdle. I’d been cautioned by other carriers to stay clear. On one occasion, a bull moose chased me down the street. Thankfully, a pickup was parked in front of one residence. I jumped into its open bed and waited until the huge creature slowly ambled away. Because of such incidents I learned to periodically glance over my shoulder. That habit remains to this day.

Another time I was stalked by what I believed to be dogs. Stray dogs were common in the park. Turns out these critters were either wolves or coyotes. It was dark so all I could see was the glare in their eyes from my flashlight. Only because someone was up that morning, and this man opened his door and scared the animals away, I was able to come out unscathed.

A tiny bar was located across the highway called, ‘Pastime.’ Back then in Anchorage, drinking establishments were open pretty much 24-hours. I was always coming across people stumbling home from that joint. One of them was a classmate’s dad. One morning I found him virtually crawling on the asphalt. I had to lead the poor man to his trailer.

One part of delivering newspapers that I didn’t like was collecting the subscription money. This chore went with the job. Some people faked like they weren’t there when I came knocking, even though I’d seen or heard them beforehand. Others asked me to come back in a few days when they got paid. Often times it took weeks to get the money. I believe the subscription rate for all seven days was $2.75.

On another occasion, I stopped by a place to collect and the owner answered her door in a sheer negligee. She asked me to come inside but I told her I’d wait in the enclosed patio. This intoxicated woman was a widowed school teacher perhaps in her 50’s, maybe older. That sight will unfortunately never leave my mind.

Sunday newspapers because of size were the heaviest to carry. It took multiple trips to that heated building to reload my bag. I’d stuff it so full that I could barely walk. These days, I attribute a small percentage of my bad hips to lugging Sunday papers.

One of my perks after the first year of delivering was being able to buy a used Honda 50 motorcycle. I tried to deliver papers on it but that didn’t work out. A snow machine was also used for a short period, but it made too much noise and people complained. Bicycles were too slow and cumbersome. A simple Red Flyer wagon worked great during summer months. I often dreamed of having a dog team. That would’ve made for a classic Alaskan paperboy photo.

Perhaps the one negative thing coming from my paperboy days was that my school grades suffered. I’d come home each morning after delivering, and attempt to take a 15-minute power nap before heading to the bus stop.

Sometimes because of a late delivery those naps didn’t come. There were a few times I missed the bus completely because of such. Mom drove me to Clark Junior High on those occasions.

Being a paperboy helped be to become somewhat responsible in certain areas. Back then, the carrier was called if a subscriber’s paper went missing. On occasion, mom took care of those complaints after I’d left for school. Mostly though, I’d take care of the dilemma when school was out.

It seems the name paperboy has gone the way of soda jerk. You hardly hear either word anymore.

I’m proud to have been a paperboy. It’s a much respected namesake. Had I been a soda jerk, and someone actually called me that, them would’ve been fightin’ words for sure!

Soda Jerk (file photo)

C-PAP-NAP

“I was given my own CPAP machine which I immediately named Jarvik 7.”

Photo from CPAP advertisement. No, that’s not me!

When I woke up after an evening nap, I immediately sensed something was wrong. My heart was beating like a kettle drum. Sticking my right index finger into a heart monitor, it registered 140 beats per minute. I asked my wife to dial 911 thinking the end was near.

When paramedics arrived they hooked me up to several monitors. One of the techs asked a question that I’d never heard,

“Have you used any recreational drugs?”

I assumed the man was talking about over-the-counter pills that older people take after exercise.

“Yea, I popped some Tylenol yesterday after working in the garage.”

He clarified his inquiry by inserting the word narcotics in place of drugs. I assured him that I wasn’t a doper.

Once I arrived at Havasu Regional Medical Center via ambulance, Emergency Room personnel gave me the same urgent-care as heart attack patients get. Blood work came back normal, showing no cardiac arrest. That was a big relief. The ER doctor told me I had arterial fibrillation, or afib. I knew all about the term as my mother and brother went through such.

He gave me medicine to slow things down before sending my still-breathing-carcass off to ICU. Late that afternoon, respected cardiologist, Dr. Pareed Aliyar, came in to examine me. He said that if my heart didn’t go back into what’s called sinus rhythm, he’d perform a technique on me the next morning where the vital organ is stopped, and then restarted. Being a former mechanic, the thought of doing such was a bit too much.

There was a time years ago when I had an old car with a bad starter. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. I knew that if the engine started, it was wise not to turn things off until my mission was complete. I often parked the vehicle on an incline so that I could let her roll downhill, and then pop the clutch to get it running. If I messed up, a call to a friend was made for a jump start. I didn’t want that happening to my ticker.

The first thing I did after Dr. Aliyar left, was have my wife place a message on Facebook for all friends to see. On behalf of me, she asked them to say a prayer. I had her mention that I didn’t want to go through the heart procedure as I was a bit apprehensive. She went against my instructions, using the word scared instead.

Sometime that night I woke up with doctors and nurses standing around my bed. My heart monitor had sounded an alarm alerting them that something was up. One of the employees told me that my heart rate was back to normal.

Thank you Jesus,” I said for all to hear.

The next few weeks called for additional tests, plus, I was placed on medicine designed to prevent such from happening again. Dr. Aliyar suggested I undergo a sleep test. He believed my afib came from something called sleep apnea. That’s a serious disorder where you basically stop breathing during a snooze. My heart rate had always been very low at rest.

A couple of overnight tests proved that I indeed had the problem. I thought it amazing they could even decipher such, because trying to sleep with oodles of electrodes all over my body was a nightmare. I was extremely relieved when each session was complete.

I was given my own CPAP machine which I immediately named Jarvik 7. For those folks my age and older, most will remember that Jarvik 7 is a name given to the world’s first successful mechanical heart. Dr. Barney Clark was the device’s initial recipient back in 1982. That mechanical blood pump went wherever Dr. Clark did. He was attached to it via tubes and wires.

My CPAP machine is not as serious a device as a mechanical heart pump, yet Jarvik 7 seemed an appropriate and funny name. I desperately needed some humor at this point in my life.

A CPAP machine is basically an air pump or air-compressor designed to keep oxygen flowing into my body when sleeping. CPAP stands for: Continious Positive Airway Pressure. If I were to stop breathing, air is forced into my lungs via this apparatus. Doing so helps keep my heart in sinus rhythm.

Sadly, CPAP machines have been given a bad rap by folks afraid to use them. At first it was a bit worrisome to wear the cushioned mask with attached hose because of claustrophobia. Bill Malloy, at ALLPAPS in Lake Havasu City suggested I initially put it on while watching television or reading. That advice helped greatly in my overcoming pent up anxiety. These days I won’t leave home without it. I religiously carry Jarvik 7 with me on overnight trips. I even take naps with the thing just to be safe.

A side benefit on wearing one, is that the hypoallergenic filter inside has done wonders for my allergies. It’s amazing how many people use CPAP’s. I have several friends and relatives hooked up to them each night.

Perhaps the biggest complaint from folks is that the mask will leave lines on their face when removed. That’s no problem for me. There were plenty of lines and wrinkles to begin with.

It appears Jarvik 7 and I will be buds until the very end. I’m not so worried about my passing as I am with his. My plastic and metal companion was paid for with insurance money. Should this machine give up the ghost, the next one will be on my dime.

“Because of that, I’ll do my best to keep Jarvik 7 alive!”

The original Jarvik 7 used by Dr. Barney Clark is now in the Smithsonian Museum.